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Anniversary Celebration – Messiah, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Written by | April, 2011
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“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.”   Psalm 115:1

Fifty Years of God’s Grace

A “committee” of Messiah members contributed to this report. We thank them! – Editor

In December, 1960, God led members of Pinehurst and Ascension Lutheran congregations to apply the Lord’s directive (Romans 16:17-18) and leave that fellowship due to unionistic activities of the ELS synod. Under the leadership of Pastors Arvid Gullerud and Keith Olmanson a new congregation, Messiah Lutheran, was formed on December 18, 1960.

messiah_ec_pastors_4c

Photo taken at Messiah’s 40th anniversary, in the year 2000, shows the pastors who served the congregation full-time: David Lau, Keith Olmanson, Arvid Gullerud, Lester Schierenbeck, Paul Tiefel, Mark Gullerud

Messiah congregation has arrived at its 50th Anniversary of God’s grace, and during a four-week period (October/November 2010) the congregation was led by Pastors Paul Tiefel and Bruce Naumann to consider the blessings of His Word of Grace, His People of Grace, His Work of Grace, and A Future with His Grace.

Each of the four weekend services included a Bible Class with a theme related to the grace of God over the history of Messiah Lutheran Church.

The first Bible Class session, led by charter member Marlin Beekman, discussed the early years with special emphasis on the guiding hand of God.

The second session was put together by Messiah Lutheran Christian Day School Principal Seth Schaller and Teacher Paul Tiefel III. Their presentations centered on Christian Education.

In the third session Dennis Oster reviewed Messiah’s growth in both numbers and worship facilities.

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Messiah Pastor Bruce Naumann

Pastor Bruce Naumann completed these Bible Class presentations with assurance of God’s guiding hand and grace for the future.

The congregation also received a video message from Pastor Arvid Gullerud (who in retirement now resides in Spokane, Washington).

The Bible Class presentations as well as Pastor Gullerud’s message can be viewed by going to the Messiah Church website: www.clclutheran.org/mlc/, clicking on Ministries and Online Bible Classes.

Over fifty years of grace Messiah Lutheran Church has been blessed with nine full-time, part-time, assistant, and vacancy/interim shepherds. Arvid Gullerud (1960-1969), Keith Olmanson (1960-1962), Roland A. Gurgel (1969 and 1982 vacancies), L.W. Schierenbeck (1969-1982; assistant 1991-1995), David Lau (1982-1991), Paul Tiefel Jr. (1991-present), Mark Gullerud (1995-2009), Warren Fanning (2009 vacancy), and Bruce Naumann (2010-present).

Messiah Lutheran School

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Messiah Pastor Paul Tiefel

In the fall of 1963 the Lord of the Church enabled Messiah to open its parochial school with an enrollment of twenty-four students. The first teacher, Shirley Wendland, served until 1968; records show that Messiah congregation has been blessed with forty-seven full-time, part-time, and interim teachers in our Christian Day School. Current enrollment is 116 students with ten full/part-time teachers sharing seven classrooms, library, and assembly hall.

The Lord has also blessed us with dedicated Sunday School teachers, organists, secretaries, assistants, and a host of other volunteers who contribute their talents through a wide spectrum of services.

Building programs

The first sanctuary (1962) was enlarged and a classroom addition built in 1965; more classrooms were added in 1978. As enrollment grew, so did Messiah’s facilities. The Fellowship Hall was added in 1989, and when our new sanctuary was erected in 2006, the former sanctuary was remodeled into classrooms and offices.

The first parsonage erected in 1970 has gone through remodeling and moving; a home for the second pastor was purchased in 1982—which became a teacherage after we built a second pastor’s residence in 2010.

Through land purchase and site renovations, the parking lot and school playground areas have expanded regularly.

Our new and larger worship facility was erected in 2006 with enough seating capacity for our membership plus visitors at special services and concerts.

Outreach Opportunities

The Lord of the Church has used Messiah congregation in His outreach to others beyond our school and worship center at 2015 N. Hastings Way,
Eau Claire.

For a number of years Messiah members near Fairchild, Wis., gathered around Word and sacraments provided by Messiah—until Gordon Radtke became their full-time pastor. Morning Star congregation of Fairchild is currently served by Pastor Richard Kanzenbach. We were also privileged to provide support for Peace With God congregation (Onalaska/LaCrosse area), currently served by Pastor David Lau.

During these fifty years, Messiah has been the church-home-away-from-home for students at Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary. We trust the Lord of the Church to bless our contribution to the spiritual welfare of hundreds of ILC students and their families.

For over thirty years the Lord of the Church has enabled Messiah
congregation to conduct Sunday worship services at Dove Health Care, and during the past few years to do likewise at Oakwood Apartments and Dove Rehabilitation Facility.

Messiah congregation has sponsored the Traveling Vacation Bible School, Silent Sunday School, VBS (three sessions every summer) in Eau Claire, Bible Seminars, Bible camps, Bible Study at UWEC, an information booth at the annual Northern Wisconsin State Fair, Bible Study groups in neighboring communities, and exploratory services in Wausau.

Over fifty years the guiding hand of God is evidenced by significant membership growth at Messiah Lutheran Church. Messiah began with 89 baptized souls in 1960, and as of October, 2010, membership stands at 754.

During these fifty years of growth, 574 souls have been granted the grace of Christian baptism, 504 have affirmed the Christian faith at Confirmation, 232 weddings have been conducted, and the Lord has transferred 108 souls
to heaven.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to
Your name be the glory because
of Your love and faithfulness
(Psalm 115:1).